Volcom – Bromancing the Stone
A few months back, the Volcom European crew decided to fill a couple of vehicles full of humans and head around the UK to help Ben Raemers gather footage for their in-progress film.
Additional van stowaways and Stone irregulars Harry Lintell, Eniz Fazliov and Alain Goikoetxea were also on hand to session whatever we happened across, with Victor Pellegrin, Dan West, Charlie Birch and Gav Coughlan also present for various stages of the journey to help dig through the good spots in any dry part of the country that the van could reach.
Sadly UK Volcom ambassador Nick Stansfield managed to roll his ankle warming up at a spot before we even had chance to pick him up, and we arrived in Manchester to see Stanners writhing around on the floor in agony with a couple of people standing over him with looks of genuine anxiety on their faces. Due to this, the tour stalwart and reliable hype-machine that is Stanners was only able to join us for a night as, against his better judgement, he ultimately decided that not being able to walk and having to jump fences for a week isn’t really the best combination of factors.
Young Raemers also managed to knacker himself a few days into the trip and as a result, took off early to rest and ice his foot in the hope that he wasn’t going to be written off for more than a couple of weeks.
Aside from those two injuries though, we lucked out – for a UK trip to hit as far North as we had intended to, that late in the year, we were pretty lucky not to see a single day of rain the entire time. We also had a good crew around the country to link up with for the session – a crew with spots old and new for us to tickle. Basically – good weather, good crew and good links at every destination made for one hell of a jaunt. Big up all those who helped out along the way – you know who you are.
After airport pick-ups and an evening drive out north of London, we decanted en masse into the first hotel we encountered with a plan to arise early the next day and hit up Stevenage skatepark.
Stevenage’s Bowes-Lyon skatepark was built during the original mid 1970’s UK skateboarding boom, around the same time as fellow surviving concrete time-capsules Harrow and Rom, but is sadly currently under threat of closure. Not that you would’ve known that from the amount of people skating or the general atmosphere on the day of our visit though, despite some of the staff at Bowes-Lyon House which manages the park being a bit funny about photos and video being shot there. I’m not entirely sure why – unless they weren’t too keen to encourage anything that was likely to raise awareness of the skatepark and the fact that it is still widely loved and relevant to skateboarding four decades after its construction?
Regardless, this was the first spot of the tour and somewhere that Raemers had been keen for us to hit up – so, obviously we ignored the misgivings regarding shooting at the park and everyone got stuck in to this rare jewel from skateboarding’s past.
This here front blunt is the last trick in a line that Eniz was filming in the crusty halfpipe that isn’t exactly easy to skate. Not a bad start, I’m sure you’ll agree.
A cursory web-search suggested that the weather was looking unseasonably amazing in Scotland for a few days, so before it all changed we decided on a late night drive up to Glasgow to take advantage of the sun. This was the morning after the Stevenage session so it seemed fitting to move from one concrete behemoth to another – even if they were 360 miles apart.
Van hours were whiled away by grown men staring into their fancy walkie-talkies, ‘liking’ bullshit on Instagram and Facebook, and/or swiping in one direction or the other over potential Celtic conquests for the unattached within our group.
By the time we arrived at Livi’s venerable carpark, despite car legs and guts full of Ginsters, everybody was excited to sample Livingston’s infamous rough curves.
Generally when Raemers gets the brush out of the van and starts sweeping something within in a few minutes of arriving at a spot, it usually means he has an idea in his mind. Ben had lost a battle with this trick a year or so before on a random tag-along mission when Geggs and Powell drove up to interview Benson; luckily round two proved more fortunate.
Not a single slam was taken and the whole session took probably twenty minutes. He rode out of the first one he put down and everyone just looked at each other in shock. Seriously heavy shit taken care of.
‘NBD’ is an over-used claim these days, so much so that it almost means absolutely fuck-all, but even in a world of Instagram big-men and hashtag cling-ons – a ‘never-been-done’ trick on the back wall at Livi still carries weight.
Blue skies? In Scotland? What a beautiful and rare thing.
Apparently the weather had been amazing for two months and we’d managed to just about catch the tail end of it. We were actually hanging out in t-shirts whist watching this go down. Again, this is the end of a very rad line by Alain.
If you ever hear him tell you, “Hey! The light is perfect right now!” while you are skating, what he is actually telling you is, “Hey! You need to put this trick down and stop pussying out!” Subtle but fair.
He’s also good at figuring out what tricks he should do and which aspects of any spot are best suited for his ATV abilities. We’d suggest tricks and he’d let you know that although it was a good idea that it wasn’t quite “the gold he is looking for”. Not that he needs to just go for gold – he’s been smashing it for years. Nothing left to prove. Big move from a genuinely well-travelled veteran: always a pleasure.
This spot is thin, steep, directly outside a pub and we skated it right at dusk – at that point in between day and night where the shadows start to deepen, making it tougher to not only see the spot, but also to clock which potentially ‘radgey’ pissed up and shouting local was latched onto your co-ordinates.
To be brutally honest, anything on this is amazing. Some of the shit that’s gone down on it – from locals, Scottish nearly-locals, and the few visitors who’ve ventured this deep into Glasgow – looks mental enough in footage and photos, but when you actually witness the height, the narrowness and the state of this natural tranny…Jesus wept – ‘suicide mission’ comes to mind.
We’d driven past this twice that day only to see a market set up and taking place around the skateable bit. We kept trying, hoping to catch last bit of light and thinking that at worst we’d be able to get a session in somehow, even if it involved using the ‘smackhead attractors’ (or ‘camera lights’ if you prefer). Happily the market had upped and left just in time for us to sneak in for the final bit of natural light and everyone had a shot at something. Dropping in was about all that was happening for most of us and, having seen the reality of this thing, that was a perfectly reasonable decision.
For some of us less physically skilled, or tasked with driving a hire van 250+ miles to our next destination the following day, it was an easy way to let the spot decide that it was beer o’clock and chill. Ben was way ahead of everyone so early in the session that it was clear this was for the place for him. I was stoked to sit back and watch. Like I say, respect to anyone who’s done an actual trick here – it’s fucking scary.
Old Chazzer B: Grime MC. 100% energy, 100% of the time. Piss taking, harassment, repetitive noises. He’s got it all. Apparently.
To be fair, he skates quite well too, which is useful.
This is Charlie gapping the channel to blunt slide all the way over and past the second gap. He toyed around on this bank for a bit with Eniz and Dan West. It’s definitely a good session spot and there is a lot of fun to be had just seeing how far you can hang onto a trick on the lip.
Charlie stuck with us for a few days before college started again, at which point we sadly had no choice but to drop him home.
It was definitely quieter in the van without him.
After 40 minutes of driving around in circles thanks to Charlie’s poor directions around his beloved home-city of Liverpool – partly due to the fact that he isn’t old enough to drive a car but in all honesty, mainly due to the fact he was distracted playing ‘Skate 3’ in the back of the van – we finally made it to this here school with a thin bump over a bar.
When you ask the question, “is it right or left Charlie?” and receive the response “Yeah…” – you do begin to start questioning many life decisions.
Happily Harry bolted this backside flip almost as soon as we finally arrived, whilst Victor got so overly-hyped that he had just been offered weed by a nine year old that I started to wonder whether he might want to move to Liverpool. Frenchie couldn’t believe his luck, whilst we couldn’t believe how easily Harry blasted this one out.
Sheffield mainstays Mark Baines and Dan Beall came out to meet us to show us around a couple of spots and took us to this quick bank to rail spot down by the Arts Tower. Victor was hyped to skate, but after a long week his legs were starting to give way. After lathering his legs up with some Tiger Balm he got to work on getting himself up on this smith grind, while myself, Harry, Eniz and Alain tried to make some funny long board photos with the panoramic feature on the iPhone. Everyone came away happy.
I’d gone to this rail in Sheffield a few years ago and watched Harry have a long battle with it due to the shit run up and the necessity of having a decent sheet of metal to avoid a horrible bump where you pop. I hoped we weren’t in for another long, frustrating session like the previous visit, but Eniz made sure that wasn’t the case by easily front-boarding through the bend like it was the flat bar down your local skatepark.
In and out. Got the photo, got the video. Job done.
Eniz put in some time to figure this one out. Part of it was the distraction of a couple of young scallies taking turns on everyone else’s boards, whilst the older ones repeatedly tried to sell Eniz weed from the other side of the fence.
After countless attempts of not being able to get the angle onto the wall the way he wanted with the narrow run up, tiredness kicked in.
Eniz then tried a different technique by ‘shiftying’ the ollie – at which point he exclaimed, “Finally! My first real attempt” and banged it out a couple of tries later, riding it straight to the ground.
This is a random spot in West Yorkshire that was originally liberated by the duo of Kevin and Morph on an old Big Push when they flipped the blind bumps over at the top. The trouble is, the bottom ones still exist which means you have to get that extra push in to clear a few feet at the bottom.
The ride out is downhill, too – which means that as soon as you land, you go even faster.
And you ride out into a road. And there are usually pissheads hanging about. #classic
This trick was actually part of a little line. When you arrive at a spot he likes, Victor gets really hyped. This was towards the very end of the trip and everyone was fairly exhausted.
That motivation of Victor’s takes you by surprise sometimes and drags everyone in. He smithed this a few times but kept claiming it wasn’t good enough. I think someone suggested the frontside feeble from the sidelines and Victor further energised the crew by banging this out quickly, or ‘vite’ as the French say.
We’d been to this spot a few years back on another Volcom trip. Caswell Berry did a frontside K on the high black rail in the background. I don’t know why we never skated over this rail on that occasion though as it’s pretty good.
A car of skaters from across the street came over to join in the session but a few minutes in, the guy skating with me slammed pretty hard into the rail. That sort of situation is weird. I really didn’t want to burn him after he had hobbled off by rolling up and trying to hero it over the rail: luckily, he seemed to be okay from the slam and his car load of mates were making noise after every try so I guess they were just down to help keep hype high.
To whomever it was that was I was skating with…I hope you are okay!
On the last day we gravitated back to London and Dan ‘Big Dave’ West came back out to meet us. He was on the first week of the trip but had to leave a couple of days early to enrol for college. He made short work of this tailslide even with the hundreds of tourists crossing every direction and the constant flow of traffic in the ride out, allowing him to get one try every few minutes.
The worst case scenario here obviously unfolded though – a bus got perfectly in between Dan and Jelle so the only thing they had in the photo of the first actual make was an out of focus bus.
Dan opted to go through it all over again just to get the photo. I think he made the right choice.
While cruising around London on the way back to the van, we spotted this random, new wallieable up ledge. Dan, Eniz and I started messing around on it while waiting for everyone else to catch up. Before long, Eniz was grinding the whole way up and onto the flat, repeating it several times until he got one he was happy with.
Victor had a hard time dealing with a couple of the spots in the UK. He had heard that the terrain on our little island was rough, but I don’t think he really got the message until he arrived and saw it for himself.
After skating several spots with the assistance of metal, you could see it was starting to hit home.
We hit this particular spot just after the previously featured Steel City gem that he frontside feebled –both of which went down towards the end of the trip.
He clearly had got his head around our glorious brick floors by this point as he nose-ground this nipple high rail in three tries.